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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

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men are allowed to " choose " the God they will serve
and the moral end for which they live. Granted that
there is only one religion—namely the right one—this
religion will be the one to suffer in the long run if that
sphere of freedom is brought under the rule of force. I
should hope, then, to go to the last limits along with
anybody who refuses to countenance religious persecution
for any reason. From this it will be clear that
clarity or firmness in one's principles of conduct is not
by any means the point which is at issue; and if there is
question of a man who is about to persecute, we can all
agree that he ought to be beset behind and before with
the moral argument. From the same standpoint it is
easy to say that an action is wrong therefore—the action
itself is wrong even if the man who performs it is
unaware that it is wrong. Such a judgment is almost a
piece of tautology—it is merely a restatement of the
original ethical principle. On the other hand, to de-
nounce those who have persecuted; to condemn them in
terms that suggest them to have been inhuman; to
assume that they in turn did not have an ethical prin-
ciple ; and to assert or imply that they were more
wicked than I am—all this is improper in itself and is a
formidable obstruction to historical understanding,

As a preliminary to the discussion of the problem that
concerns the historian, it will possibly serve a purpose to
put forward certain general theses relating to the adminis-
tration of moral judgments in the world at large. Such
theses will help to define a mode of approach to this
subject and will provide a framework for the argument
that is to follow. If they give offence, however, they